Insurer to cut prices under ObamaCare

A health insurance company in Washington state is proposing to lower its 2015 premiums in what appears to be the first instance of a price cut ahead of ObamaCare's second enrollment period.

The proposal by Molina Healthcare, first reported by The Wall Street Journal, would mean a 6.8 percent price cut on average for people with individual coverage. 

The company said it set prices conservatively for 2014 and experienced a stronger wave of enrollments from healthy people than projected, allowing it to decrease premiums.

"With hindsight and looking at what's going on across the country … we've improved those assumptions and lowered our rates in 2015," Molina vice president Ben Lynam told the Journal.

The news came as a handful of states released insurers' proposed rates for next year. 

While most carriers proposed price increases, the rate hikes tended to be modest and short of dire predictions that rates would double in 2015.

The prices will have enormous political weight as the midterm election cycle heats up. Republicans are ready to jump on any dramatic increases as a sign that ObamaCare is harming consumers.

Premiums for individual policyholders in Washington state could increase by a range of 0.57 percent to 11.2 percent, or decrease for customers of Molina Healthcare.

Two new insurers also filed bids to join the state's exchange next year, which could be a good sign for prices.

On the small-group market, five out of eight insurers proposed lowering their rates, and two new companies sought to join.

In Virginia, rate increases on the individual market will likely range from 0.5 percent to roughly 15 percent, according to official filings.

Insurers in Kentucky also proposed a range of increases on the individual market, from one whose prices will stay the same to a 16.7-percent hike for a Humana Health Plan.